Just when you thought wakeboats couldn’t get any bigger, they didn’t (well, except for the Centurion Ri257, but that’s for another article). Recently, many of the top boat manufacturers have been debuting new models all under 21 feet. While the 20-foot wakeboat isn’t a new concept, it never received this much focus — especially when it comes to the newfound “do-it-all” or crossover genre.
Heading into 2017, there are more than eight sub-21-foot boats being offered by the main manufacturers in wake, and each has its own unique stylings, features and calling cards. Some are more entry-level boats, whether that is in terms of size, price or both. Some are strictly wake — both board and surf. And some are touted as the do-it-all machines that serve up wakes big enough for big air and small enough for a rip through the slalom course.
While smaller boats have their disadvantages, like less room for your friends and potentially smaller wakes, the advantages are numerous. For one, the smaller size makes 20-foot boats easier to tow, easier to store and more fuel-efficient. And for those who are on lakes with boat-length restrictions, not only are these 20-footers the only option, but they’re also great options at that. What’s amazing is just how much you can get out of a 20-foot wakeboat in today’s market.
For Malibu, the Wakesetter 20VTX was created with the do-it-all mentality in mind. The hull was designed specifically for the 20VTX and for the family that spends equal amounts of time wakeboarding, wakesurfing and water-skiing behind it. After spending a lot of time on Malibu’s latest offering, Cobe Mikacich was more than impressed. “I was surprised at how clean and solid the wake was,” he says. “I’ve been spoiled to where a 24-foot boat is normal now, but what the VTX delivers in 20 feet is amazing. It’s a great all-around boat and very user-friendly and manageable.”
On the other side of the equation is the Axis A20, the boat that kicked off Axis’ entry into the world of wakeboats. Designed for core riders with slightly smaller budgets, the A20 delivers giant wakes for wakeboarding and solid waves for surfing, all in a relatively compact package. If you need proof, just look for photos of Randall Harris doing Randall-size tricks into the flats behind the A20 and you’ll see. For core riders that don’t need a big boat, a model like the A20 could be an ideal offering, especially when you add on signature options like the Auto-Set Wedge and Surf Gate.
Tigé has taken a high-end and budget-conscious approach to the 20-foot market by offering both the R20 and RZR, with the RZR offering the bells and whistles. Not every rider or family needs the biggest boat out there, so it’s nice to see smaller boats getting the big-boat treatment, which several manufacturers are doing. “The trend in wakeboarding for a while was everything getting bigger and bigger,” says longtime team rider Erik Ruck. “I think it’s awesome to see features like TAPS 3 and the Alpha E2 tower put into a 20-foot boat like the RZR. The RZR puts out a thumping wave and a solid wake. I think anybody could ride it and be stoked doing what they’re doing, whether that’s wakeboarding, surfing or even skiing.”
Moomba, known for offering solid wakeboats at more budget-friendly prices, released the brand-new Helix for 2017: a wake-making machine in a 20-foot-5-inch package. Even though he’s used to his huge 24-foot Supra SE, Trevor Hansen is a fan of the Helix. “I’ve recommended it to friends looking at buying a wakeboat for the first time,” he says. “It’s got a great wake, and you can add awesome features like AutoWake to it. It’s an unbelievable bang for the buck.”
Not to be outdone, Supra now has the SR, a sub-21-foot boat that packs a lot of features normally found in models like Hansen’s SE. From the Swell Surf system to AutoWake to Supra Launch, the SR delivers the best of what Supra is known for across the board. The results can be seen in the wake and waves — and the air riders get because of them.
The smaller size really can be an advantage with any of these 20-foot boats, whether it’s easier towing, less fuel consumption, easier handling on the water, or even the ability to put it in your garage.